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Beverly Hills (Reuters): Martin Scorsese was named best film director at the Golden Globes for ''The Departed,'' a crime thriller many think might earn the famed director his first Oscar either for best directing or for best film. Meanwhile, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen yesterday won the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or a musical for his stunning performance as boorish Kazakh journalist searching for ''sexytime'' during a US visit in ''Borat''. Film newcomer Jennifer Hudson won the award for best supporting actress in a movie musical or comedy at the Golden Globe Awards today for her powerful performance as a singer scorned in ''Dreamgirls.'' Hudson, fighting back tears, called it a honour.
''Oh, my God. Thank you so much,'' she said. ''Wow. I have always dreamed but never, ever this big. This goes far beyond anything I could ever have imagined.'' The awards, which are voted on by nearly 90 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, are a major stop on the road to the February 25 Academy Awards because winners here often go on to compete for Oscars -- the film industry's top awards.
In another early award, ''The Song of the Heart,'' from the animated ''Happy Feet,'' won for best original song in a motion picture. Along with being a major stepping stone on the way to Oscars, which are given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Golden Globes are televised around the world, so the stars show up dripping in diamonds and wearing glamorous designer gowns and tuxedos.
Parading up the red carpet outside the awards gala were a who's who of superstardom: Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, Brad Pitt alongside companion Angelina Jolie, Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith. The Smiths noted the Golden Globes were a fun event to attend but making it even better is the fact that Will Smith is nominated for best actor in a drama for his role as a man who overcomes tremendous adversity to better himself in ''The Pursuit of Happyness.'' ''When you get nominated, you're a little more inspired to come out,'' he joked on the red carpet.
Fashions for the actresses ranged from full-length gowns like the glittering gold dress worn by pop singer Beyonce, who also stars in ''Dreamgirls,'' to knee-high dresses such as that adorning by Renee Zellweger, nominated for best acting in a comedy or musical, ''Miss Potter.'' The battle for best dramatic film was expected to be a close fight between director Martin Scorsese's crime thriller ''The Departed'' and Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's searing cultural drama ''Babel.'' ''Babel'' has more nominations than any film - seven - while ''The Departed'' is second with six. Oscar pundit Tom O'Neil calls the best drama race a toss-up between the two.
Also nominated in that category are ''The Queen,'' an inside look at the British royal family; ''Bobby,'' about the assassination of Robert Kennedy; ''The Queen''; and ''Little Children,'' a drama of adultery starring Kate Winslet. Comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen's box office hit, ''Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,'' was nominated in the best musical or comedy group along with ''The Devil Wears Prada,'' ''Dreamgirls,'' ''Little Miss Sunshine'' and ''Thank You for Smoking.'' ''Dreamgirls'' and ''Sunshine'' are strong favorites, and a victory here will give either an added boost for Oscars.
Cohen is the favorite in the best actor for a musical or comedy category where he is nominated alongside Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhard, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Will Ferrell. In the category for best actor in a drama, DiCaprio may be his own stiffest competition. He is nominated for both ''The Departed'' and ''Blood Diamond.'' He will go against Britain's Peter O'Toole, playing an aging actor in ''Venus,'' Smith for ''The Pursuit of Happyness'' and Forest Whitaker as the brutal dictator Idi Amin in ''The Last King of Scotland.'' Whitaker is the favorite but Globe voters have been very friendly to DiCaprio in the past.